Summer Wars

Summer Wars

Summer Wars anime movie cover art featuring avatars from OZ
Summer Wars Cover Art

Overview

According to MAL, Summer Wars is a sci-fi comedy. I’m not sure who decided that it was in those categories, but maybe they’ve never heard of drama before. It was barely sci-fi, had a few comedic moments, but was definitely a drama.

That said, it was nowhere near the level of drama that Your Name is. The reason for this is that a little less than half of the movie is basically the Emoji Movie that came out last year and failed like most of us knew it would. By this, I mean roughly half of the movie takes place in a virtual world filled with colorful, often not human, avatars.

The main plot of the movie is that some high school kid is hired by the popular girl in school to act as her fiancé at her grandmother’s 90th birthday. This plot somehow devolves into an AI going rogue and attacking an online world which has real world effects. This whole online world part of the plot felt completely out of place.

I think you could actually cut out all of the parts dealing with the virtual world of OZ and it would end up being a better movie. It would be much shorter, but better.

The best way I can describe how I felt about the virtual world is that every time it came up on screen, I lost interest in the movie. It was essentially like an ad for a much worse movie kept popping up in the middle of the good movie I was trying to watch.


Characters

The protagonist of this movie is Kenji Koiso, a high school student who is a genius at math and works on the virtual world of OZ as a part-time job. He’s pretty awkward as you might expect and has a crush on the most popular girl in school.

Natsuki Shinohara is the aforementioned most popular girl in school. She told her grandmother that she had a boyfriend even though she doesn’t and so she needed someone to play the part at her grandmother’s upcoming 90th birthday. She comes from a large, old family which is basically the opposite of Kenji’s.

It’s unclear what kind of relationship these two main characters have at the start of the movie. You would expect due to their characters, one being the popular girl and the other being a math/computer geek, that they wouldn’t have had much interaction in the past.

However, the fact that the movie starts off with Natsuki asking Kenji and his friend Takashi if they want a job, and how they seem to all be familiar with each other shows that there is at least some prior relationship going on. In this situation we might assume that Kenji and Natsuki were originally childhood friends, but that doesn’t seem to be the case either so their former relationship is left as a mystery.

The third and final character I’ll mention is Kazuma Ikezawa, one of Natsuki’s younger relatives. He seems to spend most of his time on the virtual world of OZ where his avatar, King Kazuma, is a famous martial artist. He helps Kenji defeat the evil AI that has taken over OZ.

Natsuki Shinohara from the anime movie Summer Wars
Natsuki Shinohara

Conclusion

Honestly, this movie could have been an 8, or maybe a 9 if it didn’t have all the OZ stuff thrown in. But, because it did have so much of that pointless stuff in the middle, I can’t rate it any higher than a 6/10.

The real world plot was good and I would have preferred to either just see that, or see even more of that in place of the OZ plot. Unfortunately, virtual worlds are a popular theme in anime and I don’t really understand the appeal.

I’d rather see a good story with a standard atmosphere than a bad story which uses a gimmick to get ratings and views which is mainly what I see the use of virtual worlds in anime as (looking at you, video game isekai genre).

Anyway, since this is a movie, the trailer for it is available here. It’s the English trailer, I’m sorry.

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